Category — CREW
In the middle of August at the Cincinnati Zoo it is hot, uncomfortable, and difficult to stay cool. Unless, of course, you’re a rhino. Sumatran rhinos, Suci and Harapan, are built to tolerate this muggy, hot weather. At least, their ancestors have adapted to it. In the wild, Sumatran rhinos find relief from the heat in wallows that have filled with rain water. These pools also keep biting flies and insects from bothering them. The rhinos frequent these wallows and put their own personal touch or signature on them by rolling, digging the sides, and likely spraying urine on the trees and vegetation nearby. These behaviors tell other rhinos and animals in the area that this wallow already belongs to someone and to please leave it the way they found it. Here in Cincinnati, Suci and Harapan also have their wallows and they put them to good (and frequent) use. It’s our jobs as keepers to keep the wallows, and all exhibit areas (inside and out), fresh and clean. Yes, clean mud is difficult to attain but necessary. We do this by adding fresh water daily and periodically adding fresh soil. In the wild fresh rain water is added almost daily and during the dry season a rhino will move on to another wallow near or closely adjacent to a stream.
Harapan, the handsome young stud born here in April of 2007, and who has spent some time in Florida and San Diego California over the years, returned here on July 3, 2013. His behavior indicates he is happy to be home. Most days he eats his first meal of ficus browse ( tree cuttings) and fruits and vegetables and then he saunters over to the wallow to get himself good and muddy. The unique part of his behavior is that he then goes into his pool for a quick rinse. Next he wanders inside and checks up on the keepers to see how our day is going. Then, repeats all the steps over again. People often ask zoo keepers if the animals “ know you “ or know they are back home. After this experience, I can honestly say Yes. Harapan is without a doubt happy to be here and we are happy to have him home.
‘ Till next time- Paul Reinhart, Cincinnati Zoo Ungulate dept.
August 30, 2013 4 Comments
CREW’s aquatic salamander laboratory supports the only zoo-based captive assurance population of the endangered Black Warrior waterdog. In the first year of the project, CREW scientists developed the life support and husbandry protocols necessary to maintain this species in captivity. In the following two years, we’ve focused more on stimulating successful breeding and reproduction in the waterdogs by administering exogenous hormones and implementing seasonal changes in water temperature and lighting.
In 2012, we had a single black warrior waterdog ovulate and deposit over 50 eggs during three days in April. This year, we had one Mudpuppy, one Black Warrior and two Gulf Coast waterdogs deposit eggs. While some eggs were not fertile, eggs from two Gulf Coast waterdogs were fertilized and marks the first report of successful breeding of this species in a zoo setting. A waterdog eggtravaganza!
Pat Story, Cincinnati Zoo’s Media Projects Manager, was able to capture Black Warrior waterdog ‘Scarlet’ in the process of laying her eggs. As you can see from the video, female waterdogs deposit their eggs upside down on the underside of rocks or logs. We offer either substrate to our female waterdogs, so they can choose their nest location.
In many amphibian species, there is little maternal investment after eggs are deposited. However, a waterdog mom puts a lot into ensuring she has a successful brood. It has been amazing to watch how devoted these females are not only to laying the eggs, but how intensively they guard and brood them (which involves keeping them clean and well aerated). This process is also quite prolonged; the time from deposition to hatching is > 70 days. We are excited to show you in upcoming blogs how the larvae have developed and hatched.
July 3, 2013 1 Comment
This year CREW’s Plant Division is starting work on an exciting project: Removing samples from the Frozen Garden of CREW’s CryoBioBank, some of which have been frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196oC for up to 25 years. The official title of the project is: Evaluating Two Decades of Seeds, Spores, and Tissues in CREW’s CryoBioBank: Cryostorage as a Tool for Ex Situ Conservation in Botanical Gardens, and the work is part of a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). CREW has one of the oldest and most diverse frozen collections of wild plant materials in the world. The Frozen Garden includes seeds, spores, embryos, gametophytes of mosses and ferns, pollen, and shoot tips from a wide variety of species, many of which are endangered.
Over the course of the next three years we will be removing samples from the collection to test their viability and to look at their genetic integrity. Close to 1000 samples are targeted for the project—about one-third of the collection. In addition, some samples that have been frozen in liquid nitrogen have had duplicate samples that were stored under other conditions: -20oC (which is the temperature most seed banks use), 4oC (refrigerator temperature), and at about 22oC (room temperature). These will provide valuable comparisons with the samples stored in LN.
Working on this project will be a team effort. Dr. Valerie Pence and Kris Lindsey are being joined by CREW’s new post-doc, Dr. Dani Ballesteros, Megan Philpott, a Ph.D. student and her advisor, Dr. Theresa Culley, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. Dani will be primarily working on studies of survival, while Megan will be looking at the genetics of the samples. During the course of the project she will also travel to the USDA-ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) lab in Ft. Collins, CO, to work with Dr. Christina Walters on DNA degradation studies of the samples.
Removing the samples is a look at the past, reviving plant materials that have been in “suspended animation” for up to two decades. But, it will also provide valuable information and guidance for the future, as botanical gardens work to preserve the rich plant diversity of the world using the best practices available. Look for updates as this project unfolds in the coming months.
July 2, 2013 1 Comment